Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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What’s it all for?

Posted by lpearle on 23 June 2009

When danah boyd asked her tweeps to submit questions for a conversation she was having with teens, I asked Do they really care about/use school library websites? Twitter? Pageflakes? Libguides? or only if teacher insists?. The response? Nope, they don’t. All but Twitter are categorized as school tools and are only used when absolutely necessary and Google won’t suffice.

That doesn’t surprise me. Does it dishearten me? Sort of. Many of my friends and school librarian colleagues spend time creating LibGuides or Netvibes or great sets of Delicious links, and I’ve made updating our on-line resources a summer project; Joyce argues you can’t be a good school librarian without knowing all about 2.0 tools and methodologies.

Therein lies the paradox: we’re learning and doing all the things we’re “supposed” to, yet the students don’t care. They’ll go to the pages if teachers insist but not as a first resort on their own.

This isn’t a “so why bother” post, it’s a “what can we do to change that perception” post. Honestly, I don’t care if my peers think I’m backward if my students are receptive to what I’m doing. Am I doing this so that librarians in California or Iowa can see what resources I provide and how cool and 2.0 things are at MPOW, or am I doing this because I’m trying to connect students with resources? We’re already rethinking shelving and cataloging, and there are teachers that are excited about the other tools we’re using. If they can get excited, perhaps that will trickle to the students.

But again, how do I get past their only used when absolutely necessary mindset? Is it about being always relevant, with updates on current events? Is it about having a Facebook page that constantly invites students in, asking them to try new tools, see new resources? Is it creating a Twitter account that does the pushing? Or is it something else, something undefined? Alice used to have a “cheat sheet” for Northern Exposure available after every episode. Is that the hook – popular culture?

No matter how great my PLN, no one has an answer to the question of how do you reach students. It’s not all bad news, and there will always be students who do get what we’re doing and who realize that our resources are better than Google/Wikipedia. I just worry about the others, those that don’t quite “get it”.


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